Years after their daughter's death, a couple welcomes a group of
orphan girls into their home, unaware that a darkness has returned.
Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Gary Dauberman
Starring Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, Grace Fulton,
Philippa Coulthard, Samara Lee, Mark Bramhall
Prequel to 2014's Annabelle
The Conjuring set a new tone for the haunted house subgenre. It breathed new life into a faltering genre and proved to studios that horror movies still had the power to be both critically and financially successful. The trend continued with The Conjuring 2, with franchise-helmer James Wan proving this time that horror sequels can be great. Surprisingly, the only weak link in the Warren Cinematic Universe has been 2014's Annabelle, a by-the-numbers ghost story that effectively tainted the first act of The Conjuring by not being scary enough. A follow-up was not only unnecessary, it was unwanted. A prequel didn't make any sense. Having now seen the movie, I can honestly say that Annabelle: Creation not only redeems the first movie, but it delivers a ghost story on par with both Conjurings and is easily the most welcome surprise of the 2017 summer movie season.
Annabelle: Creation is exactly what I expected from the first movie. It's a fright-fest full of solid scares and provides a backstory for the doll that actually makes sense and causes you to view the entire series in a new light. The main characters don't feel like expendable horror movie fodder. They're sympathetic and out of luck, and you want them to come to their senses and get the hell out of there. I'm equally impressed with how New Line and Warner Bros. are handling this cinematic universe. It's the first wholly successful universe after Marvel, thanks to an appreciation for each film and subtle nods to the other ones.
As far as ghost movies go, The Conjuring universe ranks among the highest, and Annabelle: Creation is another notch in their belt. It uses music, atmosphere, lighting, and a great deal of practical effects to deliver a scary, memorable film. I only hope 2018's The Nun is just as terrifying, if not more so. They're certainly building it up.